Police block thousands marching in Pakistani Kashmir
Police blocked a march on Sunday by thousands of protesters in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir who wanted to move toward the highly militarised Line of Control that divides the territory between Pakistan and India.
The marchers are protesting the lockdown in Indian-administered Kashmir. Police placed shipping containers on the road and deployed a large contingent of officers near Jaskool, 8 kilometres from the frontier to stop the supporters of the Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front, which announced it intended to cross the frontier to help Kashmiris under Indian oppression.
JKLF wants Kashmir to be independent from both India and Pakistan. The group has a history of attempts to cross the de facto frontier in the last three decades, including once in 1992 that ended in violence.
Abdul Hameed Butt, a leader of the JKLF, said the protesters would stage a sit-in until the blockade was removed.
Barricades and books in restive Kashmir neighbourhood
Anchar, a densely-populated, working-class area of Srinagar, is a pocket of resistance to India's revocation in early August of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the country's only Muslim-majority state. By Danish Siddiqui
Few people step outside Anchar, a neighbourhood ringed by steel barricades and razor wire in Indian Kashmir, where police have imposed a weeks-long region-wide clampdown to stifle protests
As night falls, groups of youths, many wearing masks and armed with stones and tree branches, are huddled around bonfires, sipping tea provided by neighbours. "I am spending the night outdoors so I can protect my family," said Fazil, a 16-year-old student. "There is no fear in me," he added, holding a thick tree branch as he watched the street from a checkpoint
Worshippers gathered in the mosque in Anchar for Friday prayers listen intently to Hayat Ahmed Bhat, a Kashmiri activist, prior to a street demonstration
Seven weeks since the clampdown and a degree of normalcy has returned. Telephone landlines are working again, though mobile and Internet networks remain suspended. Shops open briefly to allow people to restock supplies and traffic is back on Srinagar's streets. In Anchar, however, the situation remains tense
The neighbourhood is a no-go zone for security forces. Entrances to the area are guarded by young people manning barricades made of tree trunks, electricity poles and barbed wire to keep the police out. Laneways have been dug up to block security vehicles
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said Kashmir's special status, which allowed only residents to buy property and hold government jobs, restricted its development and encouraged a separatist revolt that has killed 40,000 people since 1989. Indian authorities have arrested nearly 4,000 people since the decision
With government services like schools still shut in Anchar, four college students have set up a makeshift school, giving lessons to 200 children for a few hours each day. "The education of students in this locality is suffering because of the turmoil. We won't let our future generations suffer," said Adil, a college student turned teacher
"Bullets and pellets every day": Anchar's female residents has also taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest the revocation of Kashmir's special status and the clampdown by Prime Minister Modi and his ruling Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party
Rubina's 15-year-old son was injured by pellets fired by security forces while he was returning home from Friday prayers. The boy's head is heavily bandaged and he hasn't spoken since the incident, but the family would rather treat him at home than take him to a city hospital, fearing he could be detained by police
"If he has to go out for a change of bandage to the nearby government hospital, he will be accompanied by six or seven women, so they don't snatch him away," Rubina said
More than seven weeks after the crackdown began, there is little sign of an end to the stand-off in this neighbourhood, home to some 15,000 people
The JKLF march, termed the "Freedom March" began Friday and reached the blockade after two overnight stops. Police officer Arshad Naqvi said protesters won't be allowed to continue because of the threat of "unprovoked enemy fire" from the Indian side.
"We want to go and (the Pakistani administration) should let us go to help our people," said Tahir Hussain, a college student.
Also on Sunday, the main religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, held a protest march in the eastern city of Lahore with thousands protesting against the situation in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Maggie Hassan, along with Ambassador Paul Jones, charge d' affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, visited Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
A Foreign Ministry statement said the purpose of the visit was to see the ground situation and gauge public sentiment following 5 August "illegal Indian actions" in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Hollen and Hassan met with President Masood Khan and Prime Minister Farooq Haider of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, who both urged the senators to play a role in saving the people of Kashmir from India's repressive measures and pressing India to resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions. (AP)